India’s Fatehpur Sikri

India is truly one of the most majestic countries in the world, each year thousands of backpackers visit the country in order to see its culture, its astonishing wildlife and its fascinating history. It is the second most populated country in the world and as such is home to people from all backgrounds and faiths. Throughout history it has always been this way, now that diversity can been seen through its wide array of temples and landmarks that tell stories of the many cultures that have dwelled here over the years. One particularly interesting place is the city of Fatehpur Sikri, a place that was founded in 1571 as the Capital of the Mughal Empire and ceased to be so after only 14 years.

Though grand construction of this city was done by General Akbar in 1571 it is believed that the area was a significant town before this. Archaeological surveys of the area have uncovered multiple pieces of Jain history including structures, antique pieces and hundreds of statues. Jainism is an ancient Indian religion which taught of a cycle of rebirth through the means of an ethical and spiritual life. Later much work was done in developing the area by Akbar’s predecessors Babur and Humayun who saw the area as an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city of Agra.

After the successful conquest of Gujarat, in which General Akbar managed to capture its Sultan and seize control of the province, he decided the build the Buland Darwaza or “Gate of Victory” in honour of this. It was after this that the city became known as Fatehpur Sikri which mean “The City of Victory”. It sits on a rocky ridge, surrounded by a three-sided wall measuring at 6km with a lake bordering the fourth side of the city. Inside the walls sit countless important buildings that are both secular and religious in origin, each of them a marvel of architecture.

In the year 1585 Akbar abandoned the city in order to a campaign in Punjab, by 1610 the city was completely abandoned by all its residents. The reason for this is usually cited as a failure in its water supply forcing all to leave, though equally it could be due to the absence of Akbar and his loss of interest, having only visited the city once since in the year 1601. Around five years after Akbar’s death in 1605 an English merchant working for the East India Company visited the city, it was he who wrote of its complete abandonment, commenting on how it lay ruinate and empty.

Today the city still remains a ghost town after all these years, though it is an excellent place to visit on your travels. The architecture is well preserved despite its neglect, you can see a variety of monuments, the palace complex which is still awe inspiring today as well as one of the biggest mosques in India. You’ll find yourself wondering how anyone could abandon this place and with so much to behold you shan’t leave disappointed.

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